How can my children contribute at all ages and stages?
Involving children in the day-to-day running of our homes is a great way to provide them with autonomy, foster opportunities for independence, and practice life skills! Some parents may worry that specific tasks may be too complex for young children, but research suggests the earlier we involve our children in household chores, the more capable they will be as they develop. We often as a society, do not give our tiniest humans as much credit as they deserve when it comes to handling complex tasks or pitching in at home. By including our children in day-to-day chores we are actively telling them, “I trust you to do this and I know you are capable.” But what are the best ways to include our little (and big ones) in household chores?
Chores For Toddlers
For our youngest toddlers, taking time to include them in simple tasks like washing vegetables to cook can be a fun and practical sensory experience. With toddlers it is incredibly important we model the desired behaviors we hope they will practice on their own. Getting your children to participate in cleaning up toys, pouring ingredients while we cook, or filling Fido’s food bowl are all age-appropriate and fun ways to introduce chores to younger children.
Activities that include scooping, pouring, and transferring are great ways to assist in developing fine motor skills while giving your willfully independent child the freedom they are craving.
As children get a bit older, preschoolers continue to crave autonomy both in and out of the home. We can assist with providing chores that are safely done with or without supervision by an adult depending on the activity. This is a great time to encourage children to clear their own place at the dinner table or to assist in watering household plants. If there are a few spills here or there – don’t panic! We want to instill a sense of achievement and confidence in our little leaders, rather than shut them down for completing a task in a less-than-perfect (and age-appropriate) manner.
Fall is a great time of year to bring children into the outdoor upkeep of a busy home through fun activities like leaf raking, weed and pinecone collecting, and flower planting. Introducing chores does not have to be a daunting task, it can be a way to start a new tradition with your family. There is nothing like a crisp autumn breeze and some jumping in the leaves to get everyone motivated!
Tips for Implementing A Chore Routine
As children get older, naturally we can give more opportunities for responsibility and independence in our homes. Talk with your partner about what you want chores to look like in your home. Always keep in mind that modeling is the best way to reinforce the behaviors you hope to see in your home. Elementary-aged children have a strong sense of self in comparison to preschool and toddler-aged children and it is natural to find children wanting to push back when it comes to rules, boundaries, and chores. Remaining calm, consistent and patient goes a long way with this age group. For kids who may challenge us, try to stick to chores that directly impact them as individuals rather than the family as a whole. This could look like packing their own lunch for school or making sure their room is organized. For children who are open to contributing to the, “we,” asking them to assist with groceries, loading or unloading the dishwasher, or assisting with the family pets are great tasks to build responsibility.
Check out these great resources for more age-appropriate chores by age from the spruce and the child development institute. For a detailed list of age-appropriate chores by age, check out our 2021 blog here.
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